Macendamandel 18 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

I trotted my steed into Three Rivers a couple hours before dawn.  For a brutal commercially sponsored dictatorship security is surprisingly lax in the city.  I suppose you don’t worry about tax revenue when you control everything and there’s nothing being imported outside of your own little monopoly.  I dismounted, leading my fine stolen steed into the lower city and asking the first person I saw (there were a lot of people working already even before sunup) where the local chapterhouse of the messenger service was located – the idea being that I had found the grand equine wandering in the woods and wanted to return it to the proper authorities.  The fellow I asked had one of those beards without the mustache part and his eyes were wide and unfocused.  He told me that there was no royal messenger house there which I didn’t believe because I’m ninety-nine percent sure that’s illegal – every community with more than a thousand residents on a royal highway is required to at least have a swing station.  But several other people told me the same thing so it must be true.  Maybe I can take down the Consortium with that legal issue.

Eventually I just found a stable and turned the horse over to the stablemaster to let him figure it out.  I was sad to hand him over, he was a fine steed and I would have liked to keep him, but aside from the fact that I was technically committing treason by riding him I’ve found that my lifestyle doesn’t support me having anything that I can’t carry on my person – including things that could carry my person on them.  I made for the safehouse but at the first leg of the journey I was intercepted by one of the street performers that had been feeding us information – a preposterously flexible woman with jug ears and lank dirty brown hair named Eaevn.  She told me that the safehouse was no longer safe, Hessenmeel had been captured and executed.  Milani and Damrow had taken over the reins of the group but they had shifted things more from rebellion mode to non-violent protest mode. 

“What about Martialla?”

Her face was blank “Who’s that?”

“Tallish, dirty blond hair, pancake face, stupid hat – she was recruiting with Hessenmeel.”

She shrugged “If there were any other leaders they must have been captured and killed as well.  Milani and that out of towner are the only ones left that I know about.”

I sighed, this is what happens when I’m out of it for a minute – everything falls apart.  I would be lying though if underneath my exasperation there wasn’t a rich seam of fear as well.  When Martialla hadn’t shown up at the safehouse the night I was captured I didn’t think for a moment that anything had happened to her – we’re not joined at the hip and she can take care of herself.  But the casual way Eaevn declared that she must be dead made me go cold all over. 

There was a part of me that was angry for being worried about someone else, that said this is what happens when you form attachments of any kind.  And for a long time I would have given that voice its head.  But you know what?  Martialla is my friend, and that’s nothing to be ashamed about, that’s not a weakness.  I realize that now.  My grandmother always told me that the strong are strongest alone, but as wise as she was her words in that case undermined her own argument – because she was sharing them with me.  We weren’t alone, we had each other, and we were both better off for it.  I was alone for a long time, so much so that the idea of every trusting or depending or caring about anyone else was repugnant to me.  I was a survivor and I valued that over everything else – I didn’t need anyone else.  I didn’t want anyone else.

And that’s still true that I don’t need anyone else, but by the same token I don’t need delicious wine.  I don’t need good food and a soft bed and a stable full of fabulous horses.  I don’t need for my enemies to be destroyed.  But life is so much better with those things.  And my life is better with Martialla as my friend as well.  I would have avoided becoming her friend had I know it was happening. In order to make a connection with someone you have to show your ass – and being vulnerable it something that I would never voluntarily do.  She showed up and we were going along and then one day we were just friends.  And I’m glad that it happened, because even though it opens up the possibility of something like this – her being taken away, it’s worth it. 

I hit the streets and started doing some legwork like in the old days, gathering information to see what had happened to Martialla.  Enough people said that she had been captured by the consortium that I decided that it was probably true.  Unlike with Hessenmeel there had been no public execution for her, people assumed that she had been killed in private.  But no one had seen her die.  I wasn’t going to believe that she had been snuffed out by the consortium until I saw a body.  That’s hard information to come by though, unless someone was actually there – assuming that it happened at all.  I was contemplating some kind of ill-advised covert action against one of the Consortium bigwigs when I was approached by a stern looking man with grey hair wearing an overgenerous forest green mantle.  I recognized him as one of Hessenmeel’s merchant contacts.

He told me that Martialla had indeed been captured by the consortium, but that some of the group of Hessenmeel’s followers that she had helped escape had staged a reciprocal rescue operation.  Sounds like it turned in a bloody mess but she was spirited away successfully.  Speaking with a chain of the surviving rescuers, who were more than a little bitter about the experience, they told me that she had been hidden out of the city with a band of Ples Del’mer travelers/wildcat lumberjacks/itinerants.  Which doesn’t seem like a very safe haven to me, but since they were already feeling salty about the rescue mission I didn’t break bad with them about it.  Plus they probably weren’t spoiled for choices in people willing to hide a condemned fugitive.    

From there I was eventually able to make contact with some shady operators who put me in touch with some smugglers who were able to convey me to the Ples Del’mer camp away from the city several hours after sunset.  By this point I was exhausted, which seems to be my normal state of being these days.  I’ve promised myself before that once this is all over the Duke is dead and gone I’m going to sleep for several weeks straight and never get up early or stay up late again.  I reaffirmed that promise to myself as I crouched in some bushes with the smugglers made dumb bird calls to the hidden camp of the wandering people. 

What no one told me is that Martialla had been badly injured – either during her capture, during her imprisonment, or during the escape.  Or possibly all three.  I was trundled to a covered wagon back in the brush where a single candle was lit and jealously shielded to reveal Martialla’s waxy and pale face.  Her legs were both bound with splits and she had bandages all about the head as well – based on the amount of missing hair it looked like a piece of her scalp had been ripped off.  My relief at seeing her alive was squashed instantly by her condition – I’ve seen her wounded in battle many times but never before had she looked as fragile and weak as in that moment.  Her face was slick with sweat and her breathing was labored.

“Good Gods you look like shit.”

Her eyes fluttered open and after a moment she woke “You look fine . . . . as always.”

She had an accusatory tone that I had never heard in her voice before, gone was our customary lighthearted mockery.  I wasn’t sure what to say but she had no issue coming up with something to say.

“Where the fuck were you?”

“I was captured too.  I just managed to get back to town.”

 She frowned “What do you mean?  Why were you out of town?”

“A man named Peronell Missplitter grabbed me and sent me downriver, he works for Pyshundt and . . .”

She clenched her fists so hard I thought she might break her own fingers “Who the FUCK is Psyhundt?  Another Gods damned person on your Gods damned fucking list?  So while Hessenmeel was getting fucking drawn and quartered and I was getting my legs FUCKING SMASHED you were fucking around with your fucking list?!”

“No, no, nothing like that.  Peronell grabbed me because he knew I was wanted by the Consortium, it just so happened . . .”

She was frothing at the mouth slightly as she shouted “Where the fuck were you Ela?  Where were you?  You LEFT me!  You LEFT me!”

“I was only gone for four days, I got back as soon as I could, I got pinched too!  What the Hells was I supposed to do?”

She nodded sarcastically “That’s what I’ve been wondering too.  I’ve been wondering what you could have done.  Seems like every time you’re in trouble I come to save your skinny ass but gee, come to think of it every time I’m fucked you’re nowhere around are you?”

“That’s not quite true, you know that . . .”

“Shut up!  Shut UP.  I am sick of your lies.  Lies, lies, lies!  All you do is lie!  Do you even know what the truth is anymore?  Could you even recognize if it slapped you in your ugly scarred face?”

“I don’t lie to you Martialla, I mean . . . not anymore I don’t.”

She snorted “Well, what a fucking comfort that is.  Thanks for remembering that I’m alive and coming to check on me.  As you can see I’m fucked up so I’m no use to you anymore.  I guess this is goodbye then right?  Good luck burning the whole world down because things didn’t go your way.  Things didn’t go exactly the fucking way you wanted them to so clearly that justifies killing hundreds of people.  Thousand even.”

“I had my own problems Martialla, I came back as soon as I could.  You’re an adult and you are more than capable of handling yourself, it’s not my job to babysit you.  You want to be mad at me that’s fine, let me have it, shout your lungs out, but you’re being unfair.  This is a bad beat and it sucks, it happens. You’re going to have to deal with it, if you want to be pissed at me for a while go right ahead.  You’ll get over it.  I’ll be back tomorrow with something to heal you.”

“Sure, because we’re such close friends.”

“That’s right.”

She closed her eyes “You don’t know what friendship is Ela, you’re dead inside.  Blow out that candle and go away.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 6937 gold

XP: 1,196,951

Inventory: Bag of Holding, +2 Distance Light Crossbow, Noble’s Traveling Outfit, Ring of Invisibility

Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis,  Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee,  Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage, Essa, eyeless hag, Baron Saltwheel, Baron Harmenkar, Colonel Tarl Ciarán’s wizard soldier, Victor, Beharri, Cebuano, Mayor Eryn, Chimera Trading Company, maker of the manacles, Calvados Eure, Law Offices of Lampblack and Brimstone, Peronell Missplitter, Nightmare Hag

Myam 1 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar) – Part 1

I admit fully that I am merely an average card player, but I am an exceptional card cheat.  Stinty on the other hand is very a good card player and a mediocre card cheat – that thing he did were people shuffle the cards all fancy?  That doesn’t mean you’re actually good a double dealing or other chicanery necessarily – for him it was clearly just a trick he had learned.  We had fun sparring for a couple hands (I came out head of course) but we realized that us jousting like that wasn’t very entertaining for Josta and Kalisha so we cooled it after that and just played things straight and enjoyed the evening.  Kalisha was clearly the worst player at the table and she’s by a wide margin the most educated.  Is there a lesson there?  Maybe. 

We played and drank and joked and told tales well into the dark of night – it was an amusing diversion from the typical people shooting at me or trying to kidnap me or random immolations that are now part of my life.  After the game broke up and I went to bed the fun was over.  Again I was wracked with disturbing dreams.  I hesitate to call them nightmares because I feel like there’s a connotation there that you don’t know what’s going on and I certainly did.  The quaint nails in my flesh of the previous night were gone.  In their place I dreamed of being ripped apart by arrows, spears and swords on some snow-covered battlefield.  I dreamed of being on a riverboat that was shooting out the mouth of a river into the ocean and being knocked off the deck and carried away by surging waves, sometimes to drown sometimes to be torn to pieces by sharks and wicked sea serpents.  I dreamed of many hands being upon by body, dozens maybe hundreds of hands holding me firmly and throwing me into the midst of a great fire to burn and smolder – the stench of my own seared flesh plugging my nostrils.  I dreamed of being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, being carried by a great wind and falling from thousand-foot cliffs, shaking and convulsing and vomiting blood from disease.  And I dreamed of killing myself – placing a dagger to my chest and falling forward to drive into my heart.

While all this was going on in my mind I was also aware of my sleeping body being subjected to strange undulating sensations of intense heat that felt like it was coming from under my skin.  It was like a fever only it was traveling around my body in patches.  What it felt like was as if someone had taken a rolling pin and was running it along my skin from the inside after having heated it up in an oven.  It was unpleasant to say the least.  When it would travel over some of my more sensitive areas I could feel tears slipping down the side of my face.  Who knew that you could cry when you were asleep?

Eventually the dire visions of death and dismemberment faded away and I was left in a featureless misty void.  Facing me was Lypara Emprenzo, not Lypara Emprenzo the woman, the vision projected into the world – but the real demonic presence in all her glory.  I see now why certain types get all hot and bothered about studying these foul fiends – she was something approaching physical perfection.  Assuming that you can get past the scaly wings and horns and claws and all that.  Which I bet you most men wouldn’t pick up even after doing the deed.  They’re like that you know.  “Oh, she had fangs and a tail?  To be honest I didn’t notice.”  Of course she wasn’t wearing a stitch, I assume because the Hells are so hot and all.

“Those breasts are anatomically incorrect.  They’re like coming out of your collarbone.”

She was looking around as if there was something to see “You’re very closed off, no wonder I couldn’t get inside you the other day.”

“I don’t care for that phrasing.”

She smirked “Don’t play the prude with me.”

“Fair enough.  Is this the correct venue for a dream invasion?  Shouldn’t it look like there’s a bunch of file cabinets that you’re rifling through or something obvious like that? Or like a library maybe and all the books have titles like ‘Ela learns to ride a horse’, ‘Ela’s first day in court’, ‘The time Ela fell off a roof and busted her ass’ something like that?”

“I can conjure that up if you like.”

“I’m not here to tell you how to dream-haunt someone, I just thought you’d want some feedback.  So I assume that was you last night, and the night before?  Was I really visited by the ghost of a dead man or was that you messing with my dreams?”

“I guess you’ll never know.”

“When I was younger some other kids told me that if a demon intruded on your dreams three nights in a row you’d die.”

“They were right.”

I snorted “I doubt it, if you could dream-murder me you would have done it already.”

“Maybe I want to recruit you.”

“For what?  A sewing circle?  I’ve never understood demon worship, is the idea that somehow at the end they won’t go to the Hells?  Because logically that makes no sense.  If you’re worshipping a demon where else are you going to end up?  It’s like riding a horse off a cliff and not expecting to fall.”

“Well there aren’t a lot of logical demon worshippers.  Besides, most people don’t think too far into the future.  Who can be bothered to think about their immortal soul when they can have a shiny new sword?  You’d be amazed what people are willing to damn themselves for.”

“No I wouldn’t.”

“Maybe you wouldn’t at that.  You’ve a pretty bleak outlook, for a mortal.”

“That kind of goes hand and hand with the mortality thing.  As soon as you’re born you start dying – it’s a race to the grave and all the rest is vanity.”

She smiled “It doesn’t have to be like that.”

“Immortality huh?”

“Naturally.  The simplest bargains are the most enticing – eternal life for eternal servitude.”

“Pass.”

Her wings flared slightly, which I assume is a succubus shrug “Don’t say I didn’t offer.”

“If you can’t kill me why are you here?  Just to drive me mad with sleep deprivation?  That’s not a bad plan I guess but I think that’s going to take too long, I’ll have you trapped like a rat in a few days.”

“No, I was trying to see if I could breach your defenses while you were asleep but you’ve really walled yourself off here.  You are one guarded mother fucker.”

“You’ve said that a couple times now, am I supposed to be flattered by that?”

“Sorry, I can’t help myself, since you’re not a mind invader you can’t really appreciate what you’ve done here.  It’s like trying to describe a masterpiece painting to a blind man.”

“It’s just the way I am, nothing to get worked up about.”

She shook her head “No.  I can see your mind laid out like a strata on a rock.  I can see the layers.  You had a little bit of fight in you when you were a child, you’d have to make this, and then you gained some strength later on.  But for a long time it was unfocused.  You had some willpower but it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be overcome.  I could have cracked you in a few minutes.  But over the past few months you’ve built a castle on that rock and a wall around that castle and filled the moat with flaming lava and manned the gates with vukodlakcrs.”

“What are those?”

“It’s a beast that’s like a combination of a giant black wolf and a horse.”

“Sounds dumb.”

“They’re fearsome, trust me.”

“Why are there so many beasts that are just a bunch of different animal parts put together?  Are the Gods lazy?  I mean chimeras?  Come on.  And don’t even get me started on galluvix or esquilax.  Even the deadly minotaur is just a man with a bull head.  Where’s the creativity?”

“You don’t need to tell me about the Gods and how much they suck, I’m a demon, that’s my whole deal.”

“Oh right.  So are we about done here?”

“No, I’m going to continue making you dream of your own mutilation and destruction until you wake up.”

“Oh, I guess I better wake up then.”

And so I did, feeling like I hadn’t sleep in three days.  Most likely because I hadn’t slept in three days.  I tell you this now.  I’ve said before that being bone-weary and not being able to sleep is tortuous, but what I learned is that being so tired you can barely keep your eyes open and knowing that you could very easily fall asleep but that if you do so you’ll be tormented mentally and physically – that is real torture.  This is some next level shit right here.  Embodiment of evil or not this succubus knows her stuff. 

With little else to do I drug myself downstairs in the lull between the breakfast crowd and the lunch rush.  I shuffled down to the bar and asked Josta for one of the standard wake-up drinks from the old days – some people called it the Trash Bin, other’s called it something much more crude involving the bum.  Half an ounce of gin, half an ounce of dark rum, half an ounce of vodka, half an ounce of peach Schapps, and half an ounce of blue curacao served in a heated mug – that takes the edge off.  When I asked for it, and then explained what it was Josta just stared at me.

“What?  I need something to keep awake.”

“I know I’m standing behind a bar so I can understand your confusion but I am not a bartender.  I don’t know how to make drinks.  I can tap a barrel, that’s pretty much it.”

“You are useless you know that?!”

“You’re mean when you’re tired.”

“To be fair I’m pretty mean most of the time.”

She walked away, I assumed in a huff, but she returned a few minutes later and tossed an only sort-of ugly necklace at me.  I was startled but managed to catch it anyway due to my catlike reflexes.  The pendant was made of decent sungold and it was in the shape of a stylized eye – very stylized – it took me a moment to realize what I was looking at.  It had some symbols on the back that I didn’t exactly recognize but I had a feeling with religious in nature. 

I frowned “What’s this?”

“Just put it on.”

“Yeah no thanks.  Is it magic?  I’ve been cursed enough times already, I don’t need to be putting on some cursed magic necklace you stole from a grave.”

She sighed “Just do it.”

“Wow, what a convincing argument.”

“It will make you feel better.”

“Fine but if this turns me into a hunchback I’m blaming you.”

I slipped it on and as soon as I fastened the clasp I felt the weariness drain out of me from the top down to the feet – like it was running out a cup with a hole in the bottom.  Two seconds later and I felt fresh as a daisy and ready to take on the world. 

“Wow, thanks, where did you find this?”

“I actually did take it off a dead guy.  I figured if there’s anything the dead don’t need it’s that.  It only works for seven days at a time, then you crash hard.  Just so you know.”

After getting myself cleaned up and grabbing a bite to eat I decided to check out the worksite.  Before I even got there I knew something was wrong.  The people on the street there were all going the other way and they were walking with that weird leaning forward tension you see in people when they don’t know what’s going on but they know something is going on.  They weren’t exactly rushing away but they weren’t not rushing you know?  Once I got closer I saw Stone and a couple his men along with the guards provided by Hans and Grete facing off with a man in a tattered and outdated guard uniform, a half-orc waving a broken longsword, and an older fellow in battered platemail who stood at the head of whatever you call a mob before they start rioting.  I guess that’s still a mob.  There was a lot of posturing and metaphorical (and some literal) chest-pounding.  I used my vocal abilities to project over the thrumming of voices.

“What’s going on here?”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 50,874 gold

XP: 523,101

Inventory:  Noble’s outfit, Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Field Scrivener’s Desk, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Surcoat of the Night Wind, Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, Ring of Invisibility, sunrod (4) Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, dreamtime tea, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper), Masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring, Everwake Amulet

Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis,  Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee,  Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage 

Muthuselan 30 Year 888 (New Imperial Calendar)

Last night was another restless endeavor.  I repeatedly had a dream where I was being pierced with nails.  Nothing was driving them in that I could see, they were just burrowing into my flesh on their own accord.  Even when you’re having the most horrifying nightmare possible it’s just images and sounds – you can’t feel anything because it’s not real.  But every time this happened I would start awake because I felt like someone was pinching my legs.  When morning rolled around I not only felt like I hadn’t slept, which I hadn’t much, but I was even more exhausted – like I had spent the entire night running for my life instead of laying quietly in bed.  All in all not a good time. 

Therefore I was already in something of a foul mood and it didn’t help that the common room was mostly full with patrons seeking breakfast.  I liked it better when this was just a place for Josta to get drunk and for me to come downstairs in my nightclothes if I wanted to – I really should look into getting some different accommodations.  There’s just something unwholesome about getting dressed before you have your morning meal.  It’s not right it isn’t.  I had a breakfast bottle of wine in Kalisha’s room and told her about my experience with the Dreamers last night, hoping that she might be able to offer some insight on the best way to manipulate drugged out whackos but all she did was say that talking about that kind of thing wouldn’t help her recovery and sthen he all but asked me to leave.  The fucking nerve of this woman.  She’d be dead in the Shiver den now if not for me and this is how she repays me?  I’ve said it a thousand times – people have no sense of gratitude.

Normally I’m pretty good a regulating, Hells I’m not pretty good, I’m great!  But today when I went to market to ditch the lumbermen’s goods I could tell that my bad mood was impairing my ability sweet talk people effectively.  And even though I realized it was happening I couldn’t seem to get a grip on it.  After the third time I blew a good deal with a sharp word I decided that I needed to take a break and clear my head.  I found a patio café where I could drink dark tea and watch the world go by.  Well not the world, but Beresford, you know what I mean.

I started thinking about the “art” of seduction.  People often think that it’s some sensual amorous thing with silk veils and fluttering eyelashes and heaving bosoms, but like always the truth is far less interesting.  At the core all it really consists of is having the patience to put up with someone’s bullshit.  Old Scatch is a good example.  As much as he wants the pleasures of the flesh what he wants even more is someone who will listen to his endless boring stories about the different stupid plays he’s been in and how HE should have been lead and how everyone else is a kiss ass but he’s got true talent and blah, blah, blah.  He wants someone to agree with everything he says and flatter him.  He wants someone to make him feel younger, more powerful, like he’s not a sad pathetic loser in a third rate acting troupe.  It’s not hard, but it is exhausting.

People like to imagine exotic foreign concubines training for years in the talent of pleasure but it’s nothing like that.  Don’t get me wrong, there is an art to it, but it’s mostly just lying, and lying is mostly just telling people what they want to hear.  The hard part is not letting your resentment for them biting on your lies show.  There’s a part of you that wants to scream at them “Why are you buying this?!  You can’t possibly believe that I think you’re this interesting and cool!  You simply can’t!  You know what you are!”  But as you might imagine screaming at someone about how stupid they are for believing you is not terrible helpful.  What you’re really preying on is people’s capacity for self-deception.  They want to be the kind of person who gets the attention you’re giving them so they make themselves believe.  That’s for men anyway, I assume seducing a woman is a whole different kettle of fish.  Some day when this is all over I want to spend some time in the illusion of a man and work it all out.  It would be a good thing to know. Or at least an interesting one. 

Before I knew it mid-day was upon me and I went back into the market to peddle my stolen wares.  Much calmer, I was able to get my customary good deals.  I have to wonder though about the economics of making a magic ax to clear trees.  It costs you seven thousand gold to make the dang thing how long does it take you to make that back just by cutting down trees?  Decades?  I guess magic items can last forever so over time it makes sense but who looks at things from that long of a point of view?  Elfs I guess and they don’t seem to love the idea of deforestation. 

After my transacting that I swung by the construction site where Rindol and Murdane were practically frothing at the mouth to tell me about their harrowing almost assassinations and the brave men that just “happened” to be nearby to save them.  The two of them talked for more than an hour about a fight that probably lasted somewhere around thirty seconds.  Which is impressive in its own way.  But the point is that the scam worked, they were now residing in undisclosed locations and were sticking to their bodyguards like maggots on meat.  It must take a lot of temperance to be a bodyguard – it’s probably bad for business if you throttle the person you’re supposed to be protecting yourself.  Now all I have to worry about is the two of them being killed from afar by invisible archers at the worksite.  But who ever heard of such a thing happening in Beresford eh?

Even though there were plenty of things that I could be doing there was nothing specifically I needed to do, so I took a turn around town, just to see what all Beresford has to offer.  It reminded me very much of the first day I woke up in Graltontown, walking the city that day.  Beresford is more settled, more polished, more refined than Graltontown but that’s akin to saying that it’s better to fall headfirst into a mudhole than a shithole.  It’s true, but it almost doesn’t matter.  It’s definitely the kind of place that I wouldn’t have wanted to be caught dead in a year ago.  In an extreme emergency the Duke may have stopped here while traveling but you can be sure someone would have heard about it.  And by heard about it I mean probably been executed.  Rich people can afford their whims, that’s why they have so many of them.

Walking around Beresford, seeing the Beresfordians going about their simple lives I did something that I hadn’t done in a while.  I took stock of those who’ve wronged me, took some time mentally to remember what they did and what’s going to happen to them because of it.  It was a pleasant reminder of all the good work that’s going to come in the future.  It’s easy to get so caught up in the day to day hustle and bustle of life that you forget what’s important.  It’s good to take a day here and there and remember the importance of the vengeance that you’re going to visit on those who’ve wronged you.  How the many indignities and humiliations you’ve endured will come back to roost on those responsible.  I don’t know exactly how it’s going to happen but I know that it will.  I am inevitable.

After getting my mind right I headed back to the Rest Inn Peace around sundown and the joint was really hopping with boozehounds.  I have to hand it to Stinty, the man knows how to run a business.  I’m curious what would have become of this place if I had left it entirely in Josta’s hands.  The two of them plus Kalisha were sitting at a table with the remnants of a good looking meal on the overlook watching over the happy throng below.  I made my way up the stairs to join them. 

“I thought the idea was to have a few customers to avoid suspicion but not so many that they got in the way of other business.”

Stinty waved his little hand “We can worry about that later, a few months down the road, right now we’re just playing it straight.”

“Oh, ‘we’ are are we?”

He chuckled “As straight as it gets anyway.”  He flipped a deck of cards into his hand and did some fancy shuffling “I was just trying to get the ladies interested in some cards here.”

Kalisha bit her lip “I was never much of one for games.”

I smiled “I’ve been known to play a hand or two.  Seems like a delightful way to spend the evening.  What’s your game?”

Josta leaned forward “Have any of you ever played kosakeln?”

I raised an eyebrow “A woman with fine taste in card games.  You surprise me again Josta.”

“I’ll try not to be insulted by that.”

“That’s very big of you.  I’ll deal.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Funds: 50,874 gold

XP: 523,101

Inventory:  Noble’s outfit, Artisan’s outfit, collegium ring, Field Scrivener’s Desk, Deadly Kiss (dagger) Surcoat of the Night Wind, Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Endless Efficient Quiver, Ring of Invisibility, sunrod (4) Handy Haversack, +4 Armored Coat, Sergeyevna Kostornaia’s Light Crossbow, dreamtime tea, Flask of Endless Sake, Hat of Effortless Style, Walking Stick (Rod of the Viper), Masterwork disguise kit, covenant ring

Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane, Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis,  Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee,  Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer, Rindol the Sage